Under the Radar News 9.3.10

Posted on Friday, September 3, 2010 by Alexandra Matthews

A weekly compilation of underreported developments in Asia

  • As Myanmar’s first elections in twenty years approach, exorbitant registration fees are levied on aspiring candidates despite junta leaders claiming that the elections are an attempt to shift power back to civilian rule.

  • Despite warming cross-Strait relations, both sides continue to bolster their military capabilities. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense reports that China’s military budget has increased by 7.5 percent in 2010 and a prominent lawmaker stated that Taiwan plans to deploy its own Hsiungfeng 2E cruise missiles later this year.

  • The Asian Development Bank has approved a $100 million loan for a cross-border power project between Bangladesh and India. The project, which will be completed by 2010, will provide an additional 500 megawatt of power to Bangladesh, where many do not have access to electricity.

  • India and South Korea have signed a five year defense cooperation agreement that will enable the two countries to share military expertise and technology. This move seeks to transform the India-South Korea relationship beyond a “buyer-seller relationship”, as both nations share the common interests of maintaining peace and security of sea lanes of communication in Asia.

  • The Philippines announced that it is likely to start negotiating a free trade agreement with Taiwan within a year. The two sides will need to address sensitive issues such as the Philippine’s “One China” policy.

  • As China’s military continues to modernize, Japan is considering reorganizing a division of the Ground Self-Defense Force based on a model of the US Marines. The force will be responsible for protecting remote islands in Southwestern Japan.

  • Due to budgetary cuts and changing priorities following the Cheonan incident, South Korea will likely postpone a fighter jet acquisition program slated to begin next year. The Joint Chiefs of Staff is looking at purchasing helicopters, cruise and ballistic missiles, next-generation tanks and armored vehicles, and heavy attack submarines to meet potential asymmetrical challenges from North Korea.

  • India will purchase about $170 million worth of advanced anti-ship missiles from the United States. The 24 US-made Harpoon Block II air-to-surface missiles will improve the Navy air fleet’s coastal combat capability.

  • A Chinese Army unit is participating in anti-terrorism drills with thousands of troops from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. The "Peace Mission 2010" drills will be carried out under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

  • The Indonesian president offered to relocate the capital city from Jakarta as a means to relieve congestion in the overpopulated metropolis. President Yudhoyono acknowledged the high cost of moving a capital city, but promised to listen to the suggestions and ideas of many political parties.
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